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Cloud and Mobile Deployments Are the Weakest Links in Enterprise Networks, Shows Check Point’s 2019 Security Report

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Check Point(R) Software Technologies Ltd. a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published the third instalment of its 2019 Security Report.  It highlights how threat actors are increasingly targeting the weakest, least protected points in an organization’s IT infrastructure – their public cloud and mobile deployments.

The third instalment of the 2019 Security Report reveals the key cyber-attack trends used by criminals to target enterprise cloud and mobile estates during 2018. It also reveals enterprise IT and security teams’ key security concerns about these deployments. Highlights of the third instalment include:

18% of organisations globally had a Cloud Security Incident in the past year: the most common incident types were data leaks/breaches, account hijacks, and malware infections.

The top four public cloud security threats: IT professionals rated misconfiguration of cloud platforms, leading to data loss or breaches as the biggest threat, cited by 62%; followed by unauthorized access to cloud resources (55%); insecure interfaces and APIs (50%); hijacking of accounts or data traffic (47%).

30% of IT professionals still consider security is the responsibility of the cloud service provider:  this worrying finding negates recommendations that cloud security should follow the mutual responsibility model, in which security is shared by both the cloud provider and the customer.

59% of IT professionals do not use mobile threat defences: a majority of organizations have not deployed mobile security solutions capable of detecting leading threats including mobile malware, fake or malicious apps, man-in-the-middle attacks and system vulnerabilities.

Only 9% of IT professionals consider threats on mobile a significant security risk: yet malware can propagate from unprotected mobile devices to organizations’ cloud- or on-premise networks, exploiting this weak link in enterprise security defences.

“The third instalment of our 2019 Security Report shows just how vulnerable organizations are to attacks targeting their cloud and mobile estates, because there is a lack of awareness of the threats they face and how to mitigate them.  As nearly 20% or organizations have experienced a cloud incident in the past year, it’s clear that criminals are looking to exploit these security gaps,” said Zohar Alon, Head of Cloud Product Line, Check Point Software Technologies. Further he added- “By reviewing and highlighting these developments in the Report, organizations can get a better understanding of the threats they face, and how they prevent them impacting on their business.”

Check Point’s 2019 Security Report is based on data from Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network for fighting cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors; from Check Point’s research investigations over the last 12 months; and on a brand new survey of IT professionals and C-level executives that assesses their preparedness for today’s threats.  The report examines the latest emerging threats against various industry sectors, and gives a comprehensive overview of the trends observed in the malware landscape, in emerging data breach vectors, and in nation-state cyber-attacks.  It also includes expert analysis from Check Point’s thought leaders, to help organizations understand and prepare themselves for today’s and tomorrow’s complex fifth-generation cyber-attacks and threats.

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An expected China trade deal lacks teeth

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President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has left a trail of economic wreckage across American industries from soybean farms to auto manufacturers. But as the Trump administration sends signals about a potential trade deal with Beijing, one iconic American company is poised to emerge from the bruising conflict in a better position than most: Apple. Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has kept its China-manufactured iPhones off the list of Chinese imports that Trump has slapped with roughly $250 billion in tariffs. That puts the Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics giant in an enviable position compared with other sectors caught in the crossfire — thanks in part to efforts by the soft-spoken, 58-year-old Cook to cultivate leaders in both countries.

The Trump administration is nearing a trade deal with China that would roll back tariffs on both sides of the Pacific, Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher of the NYT wrote.

What America could get:

  • The deal would “require Beijing to make big purchases of American agricultural and energy goods and to lower some barriers that prevent American companies from operating in China.”
  • The potential agreement “would expand markets for American financial services firms and farmers, in part by requiring that China buy large amounts of energy and farm goods, like liquid natural gas and soybeans.”

And China:

  • “In return, the United States would most likely drop its tariffs on at least $200 billion of the $250 billion worth of Chinese imports currently subject to American levies.”
  • Beijing is also “pushing for the elimination of all of the Trump tariffs, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.”

But “early details indicate it would do little to substantively change the way China has long done business and would not force Beijing to curtail cyber theft or the subsidies that the administration complains create an uneven playing field for American companies.” The technology measure is part of a proposed law on foreign investment that aims to address complaints by Washington, Europe, and other trading partners that China’s system is rigged against foreign companies. In a 2017 interview, the president even promised Apple would build “three big plants” in the U.S. — a claim he’s repeated on several occasions — through the company has never confirmed that.

Still, Apple has made some domestic investment plans, pledging in early 2018 to pump $350 billion into the U.S. economy over five years, including via a new corporate campus near Austin. The company touted that figure, a mixture of new and previously planned spending, shortly after Trump’s tax overhaul cleared Congress, paving the way for Apple to repatriate billions of dollars in overseas money at a lower tax rate.

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Telecom Industry Finds Need To Tighten Company Security, In Spite of Huawei

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The GSMA, which assembles 300 operators globally, has pushed back against the US calls on its European allies to block Huawei Technologies as the firm is very close to the Chinese state and its equipment may work for cyber spies.

Currently, the telecoms industry knows the need for complex mobile networks as these are increasingly safe. The head of its main lobby group said Reuters that as the debate spins over equipment vendors on national security grounds, they need to be barred.

The GSMA has proposed a stronger Europe-wide testing government to guarantee that, as operators build next-generation 5G networks, smartphones and the billions of connected devices that will be addicted up to the ‘Internet of Things’ are confined from hackers.

“We are now moving into intelligent connectivity, which means that more stuff will be connected,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. He is hosting the Mobile World Congress, a major yearly industry congregation in Barcelona.

“If we have doubts today, the risk is that those doubts would be magnified going forward.”

The GSMA got to find itself trapped in a broader political turmoil as trade tensions between the United States and China thrash the telecoms industry.

Many officials from the US have lobbied their European supporters to forbid Huawei, the global association market leader. The operators countered this, with some saying the squash of 5G services which could be delayed by years if they should shred out and change Chinese kit in their set of connections.

Huawei denies that it has never worked secretly for Beijing, and also clarifies that there is no reliable proof existed which promote illegal contact to the country’s intelligence services.

Fact-based Evaluation

The leaders of European industries have required the United States to authenticate their opinions. Vodafone CEO Nick Read told in Barcelona that this was required to facilitate a “fact-based, risk-assessed review”. The European Commission is also thinking of inducing an actual ban on Huawei.

Digital Single Market Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said in a major address to the Mobile World Congress that she took the industry’s pressures seriously and additionally asked for a “fact-based assessment”.

It is yet to be known whether this similar expression means Brussels will observe the industry’s disputes and avoid inducing a restriction on Chinese suppliers.

Even if the first choice for European operators is apparent that choice and competition between network traders is essential to certify that they can improve and search for new ways to develop.

Granryd, the former CEO of Sweden’s Tele2 said, “We have always worked with security and we will always continue to work security and network integrity.”

“We live from scale, from having a community that can help us propel through innovation, through cost-effective solutions, through quick rollout. That is our aim, to make sure that we have a healthy supplier base that is competing with each other.”

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Microfinance industry posts 43 percent growth in Q3 FY’19

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The aggregate loan portfolio of the microfinance industry grew at a healthy 43.1 percent to Rs 1,66,284 crore as of December 2018, according to a report.

The loan amount includes a portfolio of Rs 458 crore in Andhra and Telangana and stressed (DPD 180+) portfolio of Rs 8,787 crore.

In the period to December 2017, total loan outstanding of the MFI industry was Rs 1,16,198 crore. A total number of microfinance accounts were at 8.91 crores as of December 2018, showing a growth of 24.3 percent over the third quarter of FY18, according to a report released by the Microfinance Institutions Network.

In the December quarter, 50 MFIN members collectively disbursed Rs 19,919 crore loans to 77 lakh accounts, it added.”The MFIs, especially NBFC-MFIs that hold the largest share in the microcredit space, have shed the impact of last year’s liquidity crunch and are focusing on steady growth in the loan portfolio as well as a number of clients in the coming quarters,” he said.

As of December 2018, 74 NBFC-MFIs held the largest share of the portfolio in micro-credit with a total loan outstanding of Rs 60,631 crore, which is 36.5 percent of total microcredit universe.

Banks’ microfinance portfolio stood at Rs 53,605 crore, showing a growth of 50 percent over the last year. NBFCs account for another 10.7 percent and non-profit MFIs account for 2.4 percent of the universe.

Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) is an RBI recognized self-regulatory organization and industry association of the microfinance industry.

Non-Banking Finance Company-Microfinance Institutions (NBFC-MFIs) hold the largest share of the portfolio in micro-credit with the total loan outstanding of Rs 60,631 crore, which is 36.5 percent of total micro-credit universe.

During the reporting quarter, NBFC-MFIs members received a total of Rs 8,235 crore in debt funding, an increase of 11 percent, the report said. The total number of microfinance accounts also witnessed an annual growth of 24.3 percent with 8.91 crore active loan accounts in the third quarter of 2018-19, the report said.

In terms of regional distribution of total portfolio (GLP) in the country, the report said East and North East account for 37 percent of the total NBFC-MFI portfolio, South 25 percent, North 14 percent, West 15 percent and Central contributes 9 percent.

In the microfinance industry, NBFC-MFIs’ share stood at 36.5 percent, banks contribute 32.2 percent, small finance banks 18.2 percent and NBFCs 10.7 percent and non-profit MFIs accounted for 2.4 percent.

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